Emirates Sees Surprising Strength in Parts of Europe, Clark Says

Emirates is experiencing some of its fastest growth in southern Europe as it adds A380 superjumbos to lure passengers, the airline’s president said.

The world’s biggest airline by international passenger traffic probably had its second-most profitable year ever in the 12 months ended March 31, helped by higher-than-expected demand in countries including Greece, Spain and Italy, President Tim Clark said in a briefing on Tuesday. The absence of fuel hedging also helped as the Dubai-based carrier benefited from declining fuel prices.

“Europe came on stronger than we thought it would, despite the euro being down 20 percent from where it was at the beginning of our last financial year,” Clark told journalists at the Arabian travel market in Dubai. “Flights in all three classes were pretty full, including in first class cabins.”

Emirates has added direct A380 flights from Milan-Malpensa in Italy to New York, and has A380s going to Madrid and Barcelona from Dubai. The carrier, which operates the largest fleet of the double-decker jumbos, is putting pressure on established European airlines including Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which has cited Emirates as its biggest competitive threat.

Greece was “very strong for us, which is interesting because of what’s been going on at the moment,” Clark said. “I think there’s this parallel economy.”

Asia by contrast “has been a bit of a dogfight” amid high capacity in the market, Clark said. Some African countries performed less well than expected, as the perceived threat of Ebola hurt traffic to the continent.

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